A customer at a restaurant called Hell’s Kitchen catches fire after ordering a flaming cocktail. It sounds like a headline ripped from The Onion but, sadly, the story is true and heartbreaking.
The incident took place at celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay’s Hell’s Kitchen restaurant in Las Vegas. It’s hard to believe, considering Ramsay’s well-documented obsessive attention to detail and professionalism, but it proves that accidents can happen anywhere. Ramsay’s new eatery has only been open since January 2018 but it has earned some great reviews in that time.
Needless to say, no one was prepared for the horrible tragedy that unfolded at the restaurant on the night of Aug. 2. A Twitter account called Vital Vegas (which keeps locals and visitors up-to-date on all things Las Vegas) tweeted a horrifying message that someone at the Hell’s Kitchen bar was “engulfed in flames.”
May not hear this elsewhere, but customer at Hell’s Kitchen at Caesars reports someone at bar was just “engulfed in flames.” EMT on-site.
— Vital Vegas (@VitalVegas) August 3, 2018
The news was confirmed by Ramsay’s team, who released the following statement to US Weekly:
“Unfortunately, two guests were injured at Gordon Ramsay Hell’s Kitchen at Caesars Palace Thursday night. We have offered to provide any assistance they may need to help them through this difficult time.”
So what exactly started the fire? The Las Vegas Review-Journal reported that the fire was started by a flaming cocktail known as the Rum Donkey. The drink is made with rum, brown sugar, ginger beer and torched passion fruit. (The drink no longer appears on the restaurant’s online cocktail list).
For those wondering about the risk of ordering drinks or dishes “en flambé,” there have been cases of other injuries as a result of this culinary trend, including a New York family who ended up suing an Italian restaurant after their daughter was burned on her face, neck, hair and hand by a waiter who was trying to flambé a dish at tableside.
While cases like these are rare, the reality is that accidents can happen when working with an open flame, especially in a bustling restaurant where servers might be stressed or hurrying to meet many diners’ needs.
There can also be user error. You might think that you should “blow out” the flaming cocktail or shot of liquor like it’s a birthday candle, but that’s actually the worst thing you can do. You could end up sending flames across the table and on to someone sitting nearby. Instead, cover the flame with a piece of heavy-duty dishware, like a nearby plate.
You also shouldn’t let the drink stay flaming for a long time while you take a bunch of Instagram or Snapchat photos. This could cause it to explode. And, remember, when you pick up the glass, it will be hot so pick it up carefully to make sure you don’t burn your fingers!
Whether you are at a five-star eatery or at home in your own kitchen, fire is dangerous and can get out of control quickly, so always practice caution when enjoying a flambé dish or cocktail.